KZN commentator Craig ‘Eagle Eye’ Peters called it one of the longest salutes he’d seen. And the veteran has seen plenty! That was in a reference to a career first winning ride for apprentice Nicholas Patel at Clairwood on Sunday.
Sunday 19 May 2013 is a day the young man will never forget. Never mind that it was his first winning ride, but the daring and courage displayed by a guy too young to drive a car on a public road on his own, spoke of better things to come.
The 17 year old Durban born Patel was having only his twentieth race ride when he scythed through a non existent gap on the 20 to 1 shot West End for Jeff Freedman in the MR 74 Apprentice Handicap run over 1000m.
The Opera King mare West End is not the most enthusiastic racehorse in town and has an attitude towards jumping out of the starting stalls.
But this time there were very few problems as Patel had obviously learnt something from his three previous rides. A sign of a good jockey in the making.
Giving her a chance early, the youngster casually drifted across to the outside before catching the long time leader Cotswold, on whom apprentice Bryan Classen appeared to have done enough. That is when the salute started!
The finish looked close and while the judges scruitinised the photo Patel was in no doubt at all and held his hand aloft until well into the pull up area. He called the win ‘like no feeling on earth.’
“I have been riding her in races and at home. I gradually moved her out to where I thought she would have a better chance, and she did the rest,” he suggested almost nonchalantly. Trainer Jeff Freedman said that Patel was a ‘good youngster.’
“West End only had to jump to have a chance. And this was a good ride as there was actually no gap there!” he exclaimed. Freedman said that he had given quite a few apprentices their first winning ride.
Patel registered his first winner on his 20th race ride. Out of the 20 rides, he has also secured two places. He signed his papers and started race riding during the last quarter of 2012.
Now we will leave it to Paul Lafferty to baptise Patel with an appropriate nick name. Quick Nick? Oh Well Patel? West Ender? Suggestions are welcome!